News / USA

    US Intelligence Officials Warn of Persistent Threat from al-Qaida

    Multimedia

    Audio

    America's top intelligence officials have delivered a sobering assessment to Congress, saying that the al-Qaida terrorist network remains a persistent threat to the United States because its followers have been able to adapt their methods to make detection difficult.

    National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair testified Wednesday to the House of Representatives' Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, that the threat from al-Qaida remains strong.

    "We have been warning in the past several years that al-Qaida itself, and its affiliates and al-Qaida-inspired terrorists remain committed to striking the United States.  And in the past year, we have some names that go behind these warnings," he said.

    Blair named as examples from the past year Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan-born man charged with plotting to use weapons of mass destruction in the United States and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian man who allegedly tried to blow up a U.S.-bound airliner on Christmas Day.

    Blair also cited Major Nidal Hasan, an American who allegedly shot and killed 13 people at Fort Hood, in Texas, as an example of a "homegrown, self-radicalized extremist."

    Blair warned that the threat of violent extremism is constantly evolving.

    "We have made complex, multi-team attacks very difficult for al-Qaida to pull off," he said.  "But as we saw with the recent rash of attacks last year, both successful and unsuccessful, identifying individual terrorists, small groups with short histories, using simple attack methods, is a much more difficult task," said Blair.

    At a similar hearing held by the Senate Select Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, Central Intelligence Agency Director Leon Panetta said that it is not so much that the United States faces an attack like the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack.

    CIA Director Leon Panetta testifies on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC., 02 Feb 2010
    CIA Director Leon Panetta testifies on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC., 02 Feb 2010

    "I think the greater threat is that al-Qaida is adapting their methods in ways that often times make it difficult to detect," he said.

    Panetta and other intelligence officials warn that al-Qaida is increasingly trying to recruit Americans and others with no terrorist records, and that the danger of self-radicalization by terrorist sites on the Internet is growing.

    Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein asked Blair about the possibility of an attack against the United States in the near future.

    FEINSTEIN:  "What is the likelihood of another terrorist attempted attack on the U.S. homeland in the next three to six months, high or low?  Director Blair?"
    BLAIR:  "An attempted attack the priority is certain, I would say."

    Director Blair cited malicious cyber activity as another increasing threat.  But he said that threat of global economic collapse has decreased substantially since last year.

    At Tuesday's Senate hearing, Republican lawmakers sharply criticized the Obama administration for its handling of the foiled Christmas Day airline bomb plot, complaining that suspect Abdulmutallab stopped talking after he was given a lawyer.

    National Intelligence Director Blair said authorities have to strike a balance between the goals of getting good intelligence and prosecuting the suspect, and that they had done a good job in the case.

    "We got good intelligence, we are getting more," Blair said.

    Obama administration officials say that Abdulmutallab has been cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is now sharing information.

    A federal grand jury has indicted the 23-year-old on six criminal counts, including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted murder. He has pleaded not guilty.

    The case has sparked a heated debate in Congress over whether terror suspects should be taken into civilian or military custody, and tried in civilian courts in the United States or by military tribunals in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    You May Like

    US, Allies Discuss Next Steps in Islamic State Fight

    Meeting comes a day after US Navy SEAL was killed while fighting Islamic State forces in northern Iraq

    In China, Traditional Banks Fight Challenge From Internet Firms

    Internet companies lent more than $150 billion to customers in 2015, which is an extremely small amount compared to the much larger lending by commercial banks last year

    Trump Faces Tough Presidential Odds Against Clinton

    Numerous national election surveys show former secretary of state defeating presumptive Republican nominee with tough talk to halt illegal immigration and temporarily block Muslims from entering country

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora